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|P. vitticeps - detail of head|
Eight species, see text.
Pogona is a genus of reptiles containing eight lizard species, which are often known by the common name bearded dragons. The name "bearded dragon" refers to the "beard" of the lizard, the underside of the throat which turns black if they are stressed or see a potential rival. They are adept climbers, spending time on branches and in bushes and near human habitation. Pogona species bask on rocks and exposed branches in the mornings and afternoons. They are found throughout much of Australia in a wide range of habitats such as deserts, shrublands and Eucalyptus woodlands.
Several species of this genus, especially the central bearded dragon, are often kept as pets or exhibited in zoos due to their hardy nature and easy care in comparison to other exotic reptiles. Some are incredibly smart and good natured.
The genus Pogona is in the subfamily Amphibolurinae of the lizard family Agamidae. Characteristics include broad, triangular heads and flattened bodies with spiny scales arranged in rows and clusters. These are found on the throat, which can be expanded when threatened, and at the back of the head. These scales are used to scare off predators, yet they are not very sharp. Bearded dragons display a hand-waving gesture to show submission, and a head-bobbing display to show dominance between dragons. They have the ability to change color during rivalry challenges between males, in response to ambient temperature changes such as turning black to absorb heat, and other stimuli. Males grow up to 60 cm (24 in) long, and females up to 51 cm (20 in). Bearded dragons also produce a mild venom originating from primitive venom glands. Although generally harmless towards humans, it is effective towards smaller-sized animals.
Bearded dragons originate from central Australia, where they live in the arid and subtropical woodlands, scrublands, savannas, shore areas, and into the great interior deserts. Their range extends throughout the interior of the eastern states to the eastern half of South Australia and southeastern Northern Territory. They spend most of their time in bushes and trees, and will often bask on rocks. When the climate is too hot they will often burrow underground.
Adult bearded dragons are very territorial. As they grow, they establish social hierarchies in which displays of aggression and appeasement form a normal part of their social interactions. The beard is used for both mating and aggression displays. Both sexes have a beard, but males display more frequently, especially in courtship rituals. Females will, however, display their beard as a sign of aggression also. The beard darkens, sometimes turning jet black and inflates during the display. The bearded dragon may also open its mouth and gape in addition to inflating its beard to appear more intimidating. Head bobbing is another behavior and it can be seen in both females and males; they quickly move their head up and down, often darkening and flaring their beard. They do this to show dominance over smaller males, weaker males, if a male wants to mate with a female or other animals they feel threatened by. Another behavior is arm waving, done by both males and females. Standing on 3 legs the bearded dragon would lift one of its front legs and move it in a circular motion. Arm waving functions as species recognition, and it is a sign of submission. Smaller males will often respond to larger males by arm waving. Females will also arm wave to avoid male aggression, often in response to a male's head bobbing. They are relatively smart for a reptile.
The following eight species are recognized as being valid.
- Pogona barbata (Cuvier, 1829) – Eastern bearded dragon
- Pogona henrylawsoni Wells & Wellington, 1985 – Rankin's dragon, Black-soil bearded dragon, Dumpy dragon, Dwarf bearded dragon
- Pogona microlepidota (Glauert, 1952) – Kimberley bearded dragon
- Pogona minima (Loveridge, 1933) – Western bearded dragon
- Pogona minor (Sternfeld, 1919) – Western bearded dragon, Dwarf bearded dragon
- Pogona mitchelli (Badham, 1976) – North-west bearded dragon
- Pogona nullarbor (Badham, 1976) – Nullabor bearded dragon
- Pogona vitticeps (Ahl, 1926) – Central bearded dragon or inland bearded dragon
Bearded dragons—most commonly, the inland or central bearded dragon (sometimes Rankin's bearded dragon)—are kept as pets. Introduced as pets to the US during the 1990s, they are a popular exotic species pet even though Australia, from the 1960s onward, has banned the sale of its wildlife to the pet trade. They are a popular species among children because of their friendly and calm nature, and the relative ease of caring for them. Generally speaking, the bearded dragon is a solitary animal. Male bearded dragons are usually housed alone, as they will fight with other males and breed with females. Captive adults reach about 40 to 61 cm (16 to 24 in) from head to tail, weigh 350 to 600 g (10 to 20 oz) and live for about 8 to 12 years with good care such as taking them outdoor, speaking to them kindly, and letting them watch TV. They can live up to a maximum of 14 years in captivity. Many people put beardies in cages in captivity, but they often let them waste away indoors. They are often malnourished, and put into very small cages. Just like people, they have a natural instinct to be outdoors. Also, when crawling on the ground, bearded dragons will pace back and forth in front of any door.
Juvenile and baby bearded dragon diets consist mainly of insects. A juvenile bearded dragon eats insects three times a day on average. The amount of insects they eat depends on the dragon itself and how much it can eat. Crickets are the most popular insects fed to bearded dragons, but they can also be fed other insects such as black soldier fly larvae, locusts, superworms, waxworms, silkworms, butterworms, grasshoppers, hornworms, and even some varieties of Cockroaches, such as Dubia roaches. Bearded dragons also eat increasing amounts of plant based food as they grow; adults should have a diet consisting of more than 60% plant matter, the most important of which is leafy greens.
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Color variations of the inland, or central, bearded dragon are often available from breeders. The different colors of bearded dragons display subtle differences between them and 'wild' type dragons. For example, the color of the beards may be orange or yellow, and golden brown to near black in 'wild' type dragons.
Bearded dragons require UVB to help enable D3 synthesis and to prevent metabolic bone disease. Bearded dragons also require UVA—this wavelength of light stimulates feeding, breeding, basking and overall health.
- Wells, Richard W.; Wellington, C. Ross. 1985. "A Classification of the Reptilia and Amphibia of Australia". Australian J. Herp. Suppl. Ser. (1): 1-61. (Genus Pogona, p. 19).
- Browne-Cooper, Robert; Brian Bush; Brad Maryan; David Robinson (2007). Reptiles and Frogs in the Bush: Southwestern Australia. University of Western Australia Press. p. 160. ISBN 978-1-920694-74-6.
Pogona minor minor, Abrolhos Bearded Dragon
- Fry, Bryan G.; Vidal, Nicolas; Norman, Janette A.; Vonk, Freek J.; Scheib, Holger; Ramjan, S. F. Ryan; Kuruppu, Sanjaya; Fung, Kim; Blair Hedges, S.; Richardson, Michael K.; Hodgson, Wayne. C.; Ignjatovic, Vera; Summerhayes, Robyn; Kochva, Elazar (2005). "Early evolution of the venom system in lizards and snakes". Nature. 439 (7076): 584–588. doi:10.1038/nature04328. ISSN 0028-0836. PMID 16292255.
- Fry, Bryan G.; Roelants, Kim; Champagne, Donald E.; Scheib, Holger; Tyndall, Joel D.A.; King, Glenn F.; Nevalainen, Timo J.; Norman, Janette A.; Lewis, Richard J.; Norton, Raymond S.; Renjifo, Camila; de la Vega, Ricardo C. Rodríguez (2009). "The Toxicogenomic Multiverse: Convergent Recruitment of Proteins Into Animal Venoms". Annual Review of Genomics and Human Genetics. 10 (1): 483–511. doi:10.1146/annurev.genom.9.081307.164356. ISSN 1527-8204.
- Reptiles and Amphibians. http://nationalzoo.si.edu/Animals/ReptilesAmphibians/Facts/FactSheets/Inlandbeardeddragon.cfm
- "Bearded Dragon (Pogona) Species Profile: Habitat, Diet, and Care". www.peteducation.com. Retrieved 2015-09-23.
- "Why Do Bearded Dragons Burrow? - Online Bearded Dragon Care". Retrieved 2015-09-23.
- Pat J. Pogona vitticeps Central Bearded Dragon. 17 February 2000. Animal Diversity Web.
- "Pogona ". The Reptile Database. www.reptile-database.org.
- Jaeger, Jeremiah. "Bearded Dragons Care Sheet". beardeddragon.org. Retrieved 11 September 2012.
- "Hades Dragons". hadesdragons.co.uk. 2010. Retrieved 13 August 2013.
- "Fun Bearded Dragon Facts & Information". www.thebeardeddragon.org. Retrieved 2016-03-16.
- "Bearded Dragon Care". Big Al's Pets. December 2014. Retrieved 14 January 2015.
- Bearded Dragon Food Pyramid 15 April 2016. Complete Critter. http://www.completecritter.com/bearded-dragon.html
- Storr GM. 1982. "Revision of the Bearded Dragons (Lacertilia: Agamidae) of Western Australia with Notes on the Dismemberment of the Genus Amphibolurus ". Rec. Western Australia Mus. 10 (2): 199-214. (Pogona, new genus, p. 201).
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